There is a fairly common misconception out there that we try to encourage ourselves with when faced with circumstances that threaten to overwhelm us. Even in this last year I have heard a number of people say “Oh well, God promised he won’t give us more than we can handle.” Quite frankly that’s just not true. In fact if you are serious about following God you can pretty much count getting more than what you can handle.
I think the error occurred from a misapplication of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which is actually talking about temptation and sin not about trials and difficulties. For that 1 Peter says we shouldn’t be surprised when we have to suffer through painful trials as though something strange were happening to us. James opens his letter saying to rejoice when we face all kinds of hardships.
But the definitive statement on this comes from Paul talking about his weakness. In 2 Corinthians he says that in his weakness Jesus’ strength shines through. So he would boast about his weaknesses because, and here is the key, he relies on Jesus’ strength to enable him to come through the hard times.
Here is the point: If God only allowed us to face difficulties that we could handle, we would never need to rely on him; we would never know the wonder and joy of seeing God accomplish things that we never could. And, most importantly, we would never know God as intimately as happens when we allow Christ to live his life through us. Really, it’s all about the relationship.
So when circumstances are starting to get the best of you, look to God – not to get you out of it, but to get you through it. But don’t wait till you are beginning to feel overwhelmed. When Jesus walked on earth he said that he did nothing and said nothing that he did not first receive from the Father. That’s the sort of intimate relationship God wants to have with you. It will mean relinquishing to God your independence and self directing, but what you gain will be far better. This is what Jesus meant when he said “Whoever finds his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find his it.”
God will allow you more than you can handle, but that’s the best place you could be.